NEWINGTON - Mayor Beth DelBuono was joined by half-a-dozen other town leaders during Newington Community Television’s Talk to the Mayor show Jan. 4.
The show took place virtually on Zoom due to covid-19 restrictions and the fact that NCTV is in the process of readying its brand new studio inside the new Town Hall facility.
Leaders took the opportunity to provide updates on town business, since the Town Council hasn’t met in nearly a month and communication has been slower between the holiday season and the pandemic.
Host Steve Parker welcomed the group, which included Town Manager Keith Chapman, Newington Parks and Recreation Director Bill DeMaio, Human Services Director Carol LaBrecque, and Central Connecticut Health District Director Charles Brown. NCTV President and Newington Town Councilor John Donahue helped facilitate the meeting and Bob Newbold also tuned in as a representative of the Chamber of Commerce.
Brown provided a succinct update on the town’s covid-19 situation as of the New Year.
“It took us 10 months to reach 1,000 cases at the beginning of December, and now less than a month later we’re over 1,600,” Brown said.
First responders are now being vaccinated in Newington and the CCHD’s fellow member towns, which include Berlin. However, Brown pointed out, that doesn’t mean people can ease up on following recommendations to stay home whenever possible, avoid large gatherings, wear a mask in public and keep their distance.
“With holiday travel that took place we’re going to see even more cases on top of what we’re already seeing. People really need to protect themselves because there is an extreme amount of the virus out in the community.”
It could be well into the new year before everyone has an opportunity to be vaccinated, Brown revealed.
“We’re in this for the long haul,” he added. “The two words I want to get across in 2021 are vigilance and patience.”
Mayor DelBuono recently recovered from a covid-19 infection and as an asthmatic who suffered from breathing difficulties due to the illness, she spoke directly to the importance of doing all you can to lessen the spread.
“It took a few weeks to get better,” she said. “I know I was very fortunate and I’m grateful for that. I know other people who weren’t as lucky as I was.”
The mayor went on to thank town employees for working harder than ever to provide services and keep operations going during this unprecedented time.
Chapman provided an update on the Town Hall/Community Center project, economic development, taxes, residents who are suffering and the budget season.
“We really need to do for people what they can’t do for themselves,” Chapman said of the town. “There are a lot of needs out there and we don’t want anyone to fall through the cracks.”
Taxpayers who have bills due in January will be allotted a three-month extension to pay those bills, thanks to a state-issued program the council put its stamp on.
In terms of the town’s 2021-22 budget, Chapman added, it will be streamlined to keep spending at a minimum.
“We’re hoping for the best but planning for the worst case scenario,” he said. “This year’s budget will be presented with major reductions.”
Another update is expected at the council’s first meeting of the year, Jan. 12.
The next Talk to the Mayor episode is scheduled to air the evening of Feb. 1 on Channel 14 and streaming live at NCTV.org.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.